In Retrospect: Ann Charters on Joyce Johnson’s “Minor Characters.”

by admin | Aug-22-2007

Q: Has Joyce Johnson's memoir, Minor Characters reconfigured how we see Kerouac, what we know of him as a writer and a person?

A: I don't think Joyce's book reconfigured how we see Kerouac, but it certainly caused us to reconfigure how we view the role of the women who appear as minor characters in Kerouac's books.

I admire "Minor Characters" enormously. Its stylistic elegance puts it in a class by itself on my shelf of Beat memoirs. Joyce's voice adds a dimension to the Beat story never heard before, and her book helps us to focus on the presence of women who otherwise might have been lost -- including Joan Haverty, Elise Cowan, and Joan Adams. Finally, "Minor Characters" whets our appetite for other memoirs by women in the Beat circle.

--Ann Charters is the author of many books, including "Kerouac: A Biography," the editor of "The Portable Beat Reader" and "The Selected Letters of Jack Kerouac: 1940-1956," and Professor of English at the University of Connecticut, Storrs.

About the Critical Mass Blog

Commentary on literary criticism, publishing, writing, and all things NBCC related. It's written by independent members of the NBCC Board of Directors (see list of bloggers below).


Categories & Archives

Become a Member of the NBCC

NBCC Awards

Finalists for 2017

See all award winners

Find out how to submit

Read how we select

Frequently Asked Questions

Upcoming Events

NBCC Finalists’ Reading: March 13th, 2019

NBCC Awards Ceremony and Reception: March 14th, 2019

NBCC at AWP19 with Paul Beatty and Joan Silber: March 28th, 2019

NBCC at AWP19 The Future of Criticism: A Conversation with Established and Emerging Critics: March 30th, 2019

Videos and Podcasts

NBCC 2017 Awards Ceremony

NBCC 2017 Finalists Reading

All videos and podcasts.